Regions Bank today announced a $75,000 grant for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI), a cultural and educational research center that chronicles the visual and oral history of both the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama and the fight for greater human rights around the world.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on BCRI revenues. While the institute’s virtual education and research initiatives remain under way, the BCRI is closed to visitors as a safety precaution amid the pandemic. The result is ticket sales and related revenues have no longer been available to help sustain essential BCRI programs.
BCRI leaders are currently working to raise $750,000 between now and the end of 2020 to keep education, research and other operations moving forward.
“A visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is an experience like none other, and we owe it to current and future generations to ensure the BCRI is well positioned to continue fulfilling its mission,” said Leroy Abrahams, head of Community Affairs for Regions Bank.
“Seeing the images, touring the galleries, watching the videos, and hearing the voices of leaders from the Civil Rights Movement as they recount history leaves a lasting impression,” he continued. “In turn, it helps us shape a brighter future as we honor those who fought for equal rights by making sure we are upholding the principles of justice and opportunities for all.”
Donations from businesses and individuals are encouraged to support the BCRI’s mission to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights.
A downtown Birmingham landmark for nearly 30 years, the BCRI is part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The BCRI is more than a museum chronicling our history. Its personnel and programs actively work to advance racial equity.
“In this current national climate as our society addresses issues of race and justice, the presence of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is needed now more than ever to provide leadership on racial justice, diversity and equity,” said Isaac M. Cooper, chairman of the BCRI Board of Directors.
“There is a hunger for a deeper understanding of the struggle for racial and economic justice, and BCRI is at the forefront of developing programming on equity and social justice that speaks to this moment,” he added. “We deeply appreciate the support of Regions and other donors that have supported us at this time.”
Most recently, the institute was honored that the portrait of the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis that is housed in the BCRI collection was selected for the inside cover of his Congressional Memorial Program. As the BCRI continues offering virtual programming, its leadership is also developing new educational and tourism programs for future visitors.
“As evidenced by recent events, the work of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is absolutely vital for our community and our country,” said City Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, whose district includes the BCRI. “For nearly 30 years, the BCRI has been steadfast in reminding us that inequities are not only immoral, but are also fundamental threats to the stability and peace we collectively aspire to attain.
“Even while closed to visitors during the pandemic, the BCRI has kept working to advance racial equity and create a more just society in Birmingham and beyond. It is important that we all consider how we can support the BCRI’s mission, while also making sure we are consistently embracing diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our lives.”
BCRI leaders plan to reopen the institute to visitors as soon as conditions allow.
“This is a time for Birmingham’s business community, the philanthropic community, and individual donors to come together,” Abrahams concluded. “We have a world-class – and world-renowned – institute that vividly reflects our history and boldly inspires those who visit to stand for equality. During 2020, a year in which we’ve faced a global pandemic while also confronting the need for greater racial equity throughout our society, it is essential to unite and help ensure the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has the resources it needs to continue reaching and informing our community, nation and world.”